The Challenge World Championship Episode 1 and 2 Recap: 10 Biggest Takeaways
The first two episode of The Challenge World Championship is in the books. You probably have some thoughts, so let’s compare. Instead of giving a simple summary, I decided to focus on the 10 Biggest moments/takeaways from each episode.
10 MVPs and Legends
Some fans got mad when certain players got called “All-Stars.” Now Paramount is going a step further, giving players even more hyperbolic titles like Legends and MVPs. Personally, I would’ve preferred if they called them Lint Lickers and Cootie Queens; nonetheless, it’s a cool name for these players to refer to themselves as, though it will be difficult for me to stomach calling a couple of them MVPs.
The way they brought in the “Legends” with their Top Gun pilot outfits was rad.
9 Theo is back
The one “Legend” I want to key in on is Theo Campbell, as he’s the only person we haven’t seen in the last few years. He is a world-renowned instigator. In two seasons, Theo got into it with Ashley, Amanda, Wes, CT, Rogan, Paulie, and a few others we didn’t even see on camera. Theo is going to spice up this season, and it will be interesting to see how he does competitively.
The impaired vision will likely affect him when it comes to heights challenges that require balance. It won’t help either in memory competitions where you’re staring at a board, trying to remember minute details. It’s a great thing that he’s a big tall man who can rely on his athleticism.
His relationship with his ex, Kaz, is an interesting wrinkle too.
8 Opening Challenge
I love that they had the “MVPs” earn their draft slots in an intense opening challenge. Those who didn’t watch the spin-offs got to see introductory confessionals and a first-hand look at some of these players’ potential.
This opening try-out challenge felt more intense and comprehensive than some old-school Challenge Finals. There was eating, running, heavy lifting, a puzzle portion, portions that involved strategy and skill, and it was non-stop. We saw players fall behind and catch up, we saw certain people implode in different parts, and the fact that Last Place went into elimination raised the stakes. It was good/healthy competition.
7 Mini Confessionals
The editing and graphics team was on point. Not only did players have their normal talking head confessionals, but they also put a miniature-sized version of them talking in the corner of the screen as the daily challenge went on. We live in the 2018th century; it’s always cool to see the graphics/video quality evolve over time.
They added extra graphics during the challenge portions where they added fake percentages to describe how much of the challenges were mental, strategy, endurance-based, etc. Throughout the first two episodes, we saw a lot of graphics like these, and it was neat.
6 Daily Winners
If you asked me to rank the MVP men before the daily, I would’ve put Grant and Ben as the Bottom 2 guys as they didn’t impress me a ton on their seasons. Shows what I know because these two took early leads and, in the end, were each able to finish at the front.
On the female side, Zara and Kaz started strong, but then it looked like Sarah or Emily had it locked up. Then Sarah & Emily couldn’t get their poles up (relatable), and Zara & Kaz snuck into first and second. Justine was in Last Place for most of the challenge until it got to the mental portion, and she caught up fast, coming in 3rd. Kiki finishing in 4th and having so much joy beating Emily brought a smile to my heart as it was the type of competitive pettiness I love on the show.
When TJ blew the horn, Last Place was Tristan from the UK and Claudia from Argentina.
5 Colorful Jerseys
Anyone who has read my blogs over the years knows I love it when everyone has different-colored jerseys. I hate seeing everyone wear the same generic dark blue or black jerseys. Seeing different colors brightens my day. The fact we have four different colored jerseys, and the fact they actually represent something (the countries of the MVPs), is even better.
4 Mixing It Up
Watching everyone move into the house and get to know each other was great. Players like Jodi, Jonna, Nia, and KellyAnne have never been in a Challenge house with Tori, Amber, and Kaycee. It’s two different generations coming together, and then you have them trying to learn who the international people are. Theo Campbell and Yes Duffy are two people from entirely different generations of the show. Yet, they’re playing together this season — as someone who has been blogging about this show since 2017, it’s surreal to be typing about all these names on one season. I remember people being mad about Are You The One cast members being on the show.
There were a few conversations that stood out to me. Kaycee was picking Jonna’s brain on whether Jonna was going into this game aligned with KellyAnne. Jonna didn’t show her cards and spoke honestly that KellyAnne is her friend; however, the vibes are off, and she’s essentially open to working with anyone. I loved Jonna’s point about how you have lay-ups, floaters, and power players in a typical season — this season, everyone is good. Kaycee and Jonna are two of the greatest social/political players in Challenge history; watching them dance around each other while waiting for the other to slip up and reveal a little too much was fun. (I LIED. THIS HAPPENED EPISODE 2, I WATCHED THEM BACK-TO-BACK. MY BAD.)
Then we saw Justine and Rodrigo physically dancing. During this moment, we saw the USA and Argentina spin-off cast members forming a bond that ultimately affected the first vote of the season. Initially, I assumed Australia and the US would run strong as we saw Sarah & Emily form a bond. They are two chaotic Karens who are physical beasts, and their working together would be a fucking mess.
3 Nathan’s Medical Removal
Nathan got removed from the season after testing positive for COVID. That massively affects the season as he finished 3rd Place, meaning he would’ve had a strong female partner. It directly impacted the first male elimination of the season, where Tristan didn’t have to go in, and the men didn’t have to worry about who was getting voted for/nominated. There’s a decent shot they might have tried to set up a Tristan vs. Nathan in elimination.
2 First Vote
UK and Australia went in assuming they would dogpile on Argentina. And then the USA players flipped the script on them and forced one of each UK/AUS players in to see what would happen in a split vote between Grant & Zara. Kiki and Kaz got nominated — that’s a big deal as they each won their original shows.
When they got to the arena, we had a split vote, and because it was a female elimination, Zara had the tiebreaker — which to me, was a logical reason for a tiebreaker.
1 Kiki vs. Claudia
Opening the season with a Pole Wrestle is hardcore. The pole looked much thicker in this elimination than in past seasons.
On Kiki’s season, she watched Troy beat a much larger man in a Pole Wrestle type elimination where Troy was focused on keeping the pole close to his body and trying to wait for the moment their opponent gasses out. Kiki did precisely that in the first round. She let Claudia wear down, and once she did, Kiki got physical and took the point. In Round 2, Kiki used leverage to her advantage, going into a full split to separate the two of them and push off to steal the round. It was such an impressive feat by Kiki. By Round 3, Claudia was done, and Kiki dominated her to take the win.
I feel bad that Claudia was the only person to get eliminated. That said, Kiki is a superstar, and that elimination let everyone know she’s the real deal.
10 FEMALE PICKS
Episode 2 began with the MVPs picking their partners. First, let’s run through the female picks.
- 1st Pick: Jonna (Grant): Jonna’s been the first-place female in her last three appearances, and each season, Jonna’s come back stronger. I’m a long-time Jonna fan — it is unbelievably heartwarming that among a stacked cast of females, she is the #1 pick, and it feels deserved.
- 2nd Pick: Kaycee (Ben): A great pick by Ben. Kaycee is statistically an all-time great daily challenge competitor, and socially, nobody ever goes after her.
- 3rd Pick: Tori (Danny): It was the safe and smart pick by Danny. Tori comes into the game with connections and is clearly strong physically.
- 4th Pick: Jodi (Benja): Jodi is a top tier athlete and very fit, but she struggles mentally and socially. Considering Argentina is already down numbers-wise, this is not an ideal pairing.
- 5th Pick: Nia (Rodrigo): To me, Nia should have been the last pick. She was terrible in the dailies on All Stars 3 and finished 3rd in the Final. I think Rodrigo saw how tall she was and picked her based on that.
- 6th Pick: Amber (Troy): We know Amber does well in eliminations and is a threat in the Final. Where she struggles is daily challenges, and she got a partner who 4 out of 9 on Challenge Australia. For a late pick, this is an optimal pair.
- 7th Pick: KellyAnne (Tristan): KellyAnne is a good player. I completely understand why she got picked last, though.
9 Male Picks
- 1st Pick: Wes (Zara): Mentally, Wes has already won the season in his head. Getting picked 1st over Jordan, Bananas, Yes, and Darrell will be an accomplishment on his LinkedIn profile. I don’t think it was a good pick by Zara because Wes is going to have a giant target on him.
- 2nd Pick: Jordan (Kaz): Jordan should’ve gone first. He is in his physical prime, has gone to a Final in all three partner seasons he’s done, and just competed with Aneesa, so he’s hungry to play a season where he can actually win. Kaz has a lot of heart; they’re going to be a good duo
- 3rd Pick: Bananas (Justine): I recently watched Bananas get outperformed by Devin in a Final. He’s still a great player; I just don’t think the target on him is worth the 3rd pick for Justine.
- 4th Pick: Darrell (Kiki): Kiki needs someone to push and support her, and Darrell is exactly that. I do think the person who got picked next would’ve complemented her better.
- 5th Pick: Yes (Emily): If it’s a partner season, you want Yes. He is excellent at communicating and will always have a strategy going into each daily. Emily has the physical side down; if she can trust Yes to lead them in puzzles, they are a big threat to win.
- 6th Pick: Theo (Sarah): Ridiculously good value for Sarah with the 6th pick. A marathon runner paired with a pro sprinter makes them the biggest threat if they can get to the Final.
- 7th Pick: Nelson (Jujuy): Someone had to get Nelson.
8 Great Graphics Again
After each pick, they showed graphics depicting the combined stats of each pairing. It was neat and fun and made The Challenge feel like a sport.
7 Intro Video
The cheesy intro video where all the pairs were representing their countries had an old-school Challenge feel that I love. Every season needs an opening intro video with the cast.
6 Nelson & Jujuy
Talk about a wild pairing. The Argentinian competitors enter the game at a disadvantage where they’re the only players in which English isn’t their first language. Jujuy got Nelson as a partner, and if you met him, you’d have a hard time assuming English is his first language. Getting partnered with a guy who can’t do puzzles, can’t swim, and struggles with communication skills is terrible luck.
Regardless, she kept a smile on her face and had great vibes. Also, I think Nelson really wanted to bang her and thus was trying to play the charm/smiles up.
5 HARDCORE DAILY
We had back-to-back intense challenges. They assembled a cast of MVPs/Legends, and the difficulty level seems high. Players had to carry heavy chains through the sand and then use those chains to replicate a puzzle pattern. The chains looked heavy, the challenge took real communication and problem-solving in this challenge, and the desert sand looked hot. In the words of Nick Jonas: “Tryna break the chains, but the chains only break me.”
4 Photo Finish
We had a genuine sprint to the finish line to determine the winner of the first paired daily challenge, and it was epic. Grant & Jonna killed this challenge by letting her take the reigns mentally. Physically, Grant did whatever she needed. Grant’s won 2 more daily challenges on this show than he did on Challenge Australia. Jordan and Kaz were a dynamite pair as well, coming in a close second.
Here are the rest of the placements:
Kaycee-Ben (3rd), Yes-Emily (4th), Ben-Jodi (5th), Darrell-Kiki (6th), Danny-Tori (7th), Wes-Zara (8th), Theo-Sarah (9th), Troy-Amber (10th), Bananas-Justine (11th), Nia-Rodrigo (12th)
3 Battle for Last (& Nominations)
Last place going into elimination is what we’ve been missing on the MTV show. KellyAnne & Tristan and Nelson & Jujuy’s brains overheating as they tried over and over again to solve the puzzle to avoid going into elimination was thrilling stuff. In the end, KellyAnne & Tristan were able to put it together. What I enjoy about this type of formatting in daily challenges is that it forces the players to pay closer attention to who is performing well. Tristan being in the Bottom 2 in back-to-back challenges made him and KellyAnne a really easy team to vote into elimination.
Eventually, we saw that as KellyAnne & Tristan got nominated along with Jodi & Benja. Jodi knew that they’d be on the chopping block as Argentina had a target on them with Claudia already out and her lacking the connections of the other vets.
2 KellyAnne Needs To Chill
I can’t get over how unnecessarily messy KellyAnne is. When she was politically campaigning, she pitched the idea of throwing in a Challenge USA member to Tori’s face. Tori’s partner is Danny. If KellyAnne’s fate wasn’t already sealed, she guaranteed it not only in that moment, but it told Tori that KellyAnne is someone she won’t be working with in any capacity.
When KellyAnne did get nominated, she should’ve been pretty calm as Jonna won the daily, and the two are friends. Instead of staying cool, KellyAnne was weirdly passive-aggressive and snarky toward Jonna. Even if frustrated, don’t show angst to the person in power. I love KellyAnne so much as a Reality TV character because she always finds ways to create hurdles that should not exist. Yet, she has an authenticity that I’m not annoyed by it, only entertained. It’s pure chaos.
The Wes element of the episode was interesting. They did Rivals 3 together in 2016 and never mentioned their relationship. Then on All Stars 3, it was something they would randomly shoehorn/mention. KellyAnne & Wes were in a serious relationship many years ago, except the way they’ve operated in past seasons is that it’s something long and buried. Wes voting for her was weird — although I don’t know if it’s that big of a deal. As I say this, I’m fantasy-casting them on Exes 3.
1 No Elimination ???
My simple peanut brain enjoys it when an episode culminates with an elimination. The moment the episode ended on a cliffhanger, I was a bit upset. As I’ve had some time to think, I am excited about the potential drama KellyAnne might drum up. The MTV show has been missing messiness and real drama, and we might get that before the first partner elimination of the season — something that should be an easy choice! I will trust the editors because if they feel they have some good drama to build up to the eventual elimination, I’ll wait and see before I launch a full complaint.